Banning the “stupid” vote: College kids are on the list; who’s next?

Are college kids stupid? Do we lack experiences, or make decisions with our emotions instead of our intellects? House speaker William O’Brien seems to think so. O’Brien claims that “Voting as a liberal (is) what kids do”, labeling them as “foolish”. He added that they lack “life experience,” and “they just vote their feelings.” Clearly this lawmaker believes that college kids are incompetent when dealing with crucial decisions such as voting.

If college kids are “incompetent” when it comes to voting, the question remains: who isn’t?

Do we add to that list voters whose ballots are cast wrong, or voters who are turned away from polls due to lack of ID? In fact, according to O’Brien, we should. The New Hampshire bill also calls to require a photo ID to be present with the voter at the booth, which would mostly affect students and low income minorities who are less inclined to get the IDs they don’t need. O’Brien argues that this would help prevent voter fraud, which has little evidence in terms of voter ID and college voters.

Evidence follows, instead of O’Brien’s testimony, that college students make informed decisions based on factors of civic participation placed on schools as outlined in UC Berkeley’s piece “21st Century Competencies” on political socialization. In its structure, college provides a political womb in which students can develop a clear understanding of a complex and political world. Among the list of people praising the effects of education on political competency are everyone from former presidents such as Thomas Jefferson to notable education scholars such as John Dewey.

Lack of evidential support aside, O’Brien’s argument that college students are the single ignorant demographic that need to be silenced seems strangely specific.

There are numerous communities other than college students that can easily be labeled as “stupid voters.” Take for example Tea Party voters who would vote to allow guns to be carried in schools, or to create a panel to nullify all federal laws. If the argument is to be made that certain demographics vote with their hearts instead of their brains, certainly these people should be included with college students on the list.

Lawmakers who wish to pass these marginalizing laws seem to want to ignore the principles essential to living in a modern democracy. In a democracy, all citizens are given equal representation, regardless of their condition, situation, etc. If a single group is discriminated against or prevented from being represented, then any group can be, and democracy is not achievable.

Democracy seems to have been put on the backburner with these new laws, and, if they pass, there could be dire consequences for college students everywhere. Poor statistics were used to support O’Brien’s stance on college voters, and they could be repeated by lawmakers in California. If we truly, as Americans, wish to tackle the issues associated with voter fraud, we should turn a critical eye to fraud with substantial proof: the fraud of denying college kids the right to vote.